Smart fortwo: An Awesome Car for the City (or Shore)

Smart Car
The Smart fortwo is perfectly sized for one or two people. I loved popping the top and getting some sun, too! Photo: Scotty Reiss

We hate looking for parking, too.

You dread it, right? That extra slog you go through when you get home to your perfect industrial studio/brownstone/loft/4th floor walk up: finding a parking spot.

The folks at Mercedes Benz feel your pain. 18 years ago they created a co-venture with Swiss watch maker Swatch to start a new car brand. The result was the Smart Car: Smart stands for Swatch Mercedes Art, the ‘art’ being the gazillion ways buyers can customize the car’s exterior.

But Mercedes-Benz saw Smart Car as more than just an expression of personal creativity; it offered a transportation solution perfect for our growing urban populations. The cars are ideal for one or two people, offer flexible cargo/luggage/grocery space and because of their size, are easy to park. They are also super affordable, with pricing starting at about $15,000 and lease deals at just over $100 a month (plus think of all the cash you’ll save being able to park on the street).

Making its mark on Smart Car (and renaming it Smart fortwo), Mercedes-Benz has consistently upgraded the materials, features and manufacturing, focusing on how customers use the car.

2017 Smart Car

The fleet of Smart fortwo we drove; the entire dozen parked side by side took up less parking than three or four regular sized cars. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Smart Car is small, but don’t worry, it’s super safe

2017 Smart Car

The New York City Police Department uses Smart Cars in its parking enforcement fleet. We came across this one and had to stop for a photo, and as we did, an officer drove past us in an NYPD Smart Car and gave us a thumbs up. That never happens! Photo: Scotty Reiss

Probably the biggest barrier for buyers is the idea that a car this small can’t be safe. Think again. Smart’s super reinforced steel frame can hold the weight of a truck four times its weight and it passes crash tests with flying colors. In fact, Smart’s engineers take safety testing way beyond government regulations, measuring it by the same standards of all Mercedes Benz models.

And yes it’s small, but it doesn’t feel like it

2017 Smart Car

I love the tail gate on the Smart fortwo; it becomes a shelf that is convenient when managing things in the cargo area. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Smart fortwo reminds me of a Chihuahua that isn’t afraid to run with Great Danes: It doesn’t get that it’s smaller than the other dogs and has no problem keeping up. Driving Smart fortwo felt like this, capable, assertive when it needed to be, confident on city streets or the highway. You sort of forget that you’re smaller than everything else on the road.

Until you try to park, which was a high-five, fist-bump experience. We were able to park in those tiny gaps between larger cars on the street.


But where do I put my stuff? (This is pretty cool)

2017 Smart Car

I loved that the rear cargo space is accessible from the driver’s seat; just reach back and lift the curtain and you can access items in the back. it was one of the more perfect places to put my handbag. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This was the biggest surprise in this little cutie: where to put my purse. And thankfully it was NOT under the feet of my passenger. The rear cargo space of Smart fortwo is reachable from the rear gate or the front seat. A curtain behind the seats attaches to the floor with a strip of Velcro and keeps things in the back from sliding forward. I loved this: I put my handbag there and it was neatly out of the way yet easy to reach when I needed it.

I also loved all the nice little storage nooks including a shelf over the glove box and a tray that pulls out from under the center console.

Goodbye Brooklyn, Hello Saint Tropez

2017 Smart Car

The top on the Smart fortwo Cabrio has three positions: closed, partially open or fully open. Even when fully open it does not impede trunk space. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This is the magic of a convertible: Pop the top and a sunny day becomes a mini vacation. Suddenly you feel a bit more chic, people smile at you, your city charms you just a little more. Of course Smart fortwo needed a convertible version! The edition we test drove, which is the latest redesign of the Smart fortwo Cabrio (prices starting at $19,000; the model we drove was about $23,000), is Smart’s best offering yet with an improved interior and a clever convertible top that doesn’t take any space away from the limited cargo space.

It was fun and refreshing to spend the day tooling around Brooklyn in the cabrio. If only I could put it in my carry on and take it with me to Saint Tropez.



2017 Smart Car

The Smart fortwo is filled with clever details, including upholstery that is made from running shoe fabric and this optional phone holder so you can use your own favorite navigation app and music apps. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Disclosure: I was Smart fortwo’s guest for this drive event; accommodations were provided but opinions are all my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss